A top American diplomat responsible for monitoring international religious freedom has said that the US is concerned about the implications of the new citizenship law in India, while expressing hope that the government will abide by its constitutional commitments.
Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, tweeted on Friday, “One of India’s great strengths is its Constitution. As a fellow democracy, we respect India’s institutions, but are concerned about the implications of the CAB bill. We hope the government will abide by its constitutional commitments, including on religious freedom.”
The US diplomat’s reaction came after the Trump administration urged Indian to “protect the rights of its religious minorities” in keeping with the “Constitution and democratic values”.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday and the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, provides for granting citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Brownback’s remarks also come ahead of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between India and the US. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are scheduled to arrive at Washington DC next week for the second 2+2 talks with their American counterparts – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper – on December 18.
In another development, at a Congressional briefing organised by the Indian American Muslim Council, Engage Action and the Hindus for Human Rights, Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch expressed concern on Thursday over the human rights situation in Kashmir and Assam.
Stanton is known for creating the famous “Ten Stages of Genocide” as a presentation to the US Department of State when he worked there in 1996. He also drafted the UN Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and the Burundi Commission of Inquiry.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi has said the new law provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries. It asserted that every nation has the right to enumerate and validate its citizenry, and to exercise the prerogative through various policies.
Large-scale protests have taken place in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with thousands of people hitting the streets defying prohibitory orders to demand scrapping of the contentious law.
On Friday, the CAB protests turned violent at Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi, as 42 students were detained and over 25 injured after Delhi Police fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathi-charge.